Sunday, January 31, 2016

Taste the Rainbow

I'm a little drunk after being taken care of so well at dinner tonight, so I'm lecturing while Katie listens in the cab on the way home.  

"Marshall McLuhan talks about the difference between 'hot' and 'cold' senses, like, for example, hearing and smelling are 'hot' because there's no way to turn them off, and they sort of invade your body."

"Yeah, but what if you just plug your nose and hold your breath?" Katie says as we roll past the riot of lights in the ads on the LED billboard at Barclays Center.

"Well, you'd still taste it," I say. 

Saturday, January 30, 2016

LA Cops

"I like Straight Outta Compton way better than The Revenant," I say. putting away the dishes. "But it didn't have any bears."

"Didn't it though?" Katie says.

(Not) Going My Way

The dog, never one to take kindly to the intrusion of anyone into her domain, has taken a particular dislike to my friend Kevin tonight. She follows him around the house barking in alarm and trying to catch my eye, as if to say, "Could you please take care of this?"

After we watch a movie, Katie and I walk Kevin downstairs with the dog in tow for her nightly walk.

She watches him nervously the entire way down the stairs, and when, outside, we ask him which way he's going, he gives her a weary smile, saying, "Well, whatever way she's going, I'll give her a rest and go the other."

Thursday, January 28, 2016

Admit It

My very tall boss leans over my desk, pointing at the screen.

"And maybe you can move that there, and that...," she wiggles one long finger.

"Are you sure you don't want a chair?" I ask, looking up at her.

She considers for a moment, then goes and gets the chair, saying, "I need to stop pretending this is only going to take a minute."

Wednesday, January 27, 2016

Plans and a Carpet Spoiled

An old friend came in to town last night, and I stayed up a little too late talking (it's very nice to be around someone who remembers when you had potential). But instead of sleeping in like I planned, my body woke me up at the same old time I always get up - right around six in the morning - and so I decided to get up and do yoga anyway.

It takes me a while to get out of bed, though, and as I stumble down the hall to the end of the house where I do yoga, pursued by the strangely awake and restless doge, I try to clear the cobwebs so I can at least get a decent session in. 

Sudden quiet behind me, however, alerts me to something amiss, and I turn around to find the doge squatting on the carpet with a guilty look on her face while a puddle spreads beneath her.

Smiling and Waving

The train stops on the bridge, just opposite the office building with the giant windows. A few diligent workers keep the lights on in the creeping dusk, and I watch from my train car, hoping that one of them will look up so I can wave to him or her, but none of them do.

A guy walks by my car on the bridge pedestrian path down below, trudging in the cold. He glances up and I wave to him as my chest swells with the thrill of doing something forbidden, but he just smirks a little and keeps walking.

Monday, January 25, 2016

You Just Made it Mad!

The snow and ice are an old dog's nemeses, of course, and her being half-blind doesn't help. But somehow she makes it work, staggering through snow drifts with a drunken enthusiasm.

Tonight, however, she stands on the top step of our stoop, hackles up. staring in horror at the five-foot-high wall of black plastic trash bags stacked up against the snow bank outside our door.

I walk over to it, and give the nearest bag a solid kick to reassure her, but she seems unconvinced as she finally skips to the sidewalk and veers away from the wall of shiny darkness to trot down the sidewalk and find a safe place to pee.

Sunday, January 24, 2016

In the Night Kitchen

The dog barks, a short, dry, coughing sound, because she's not allowed in the kitchen and Katie and I are both hanging out in there.

I'm sitting on the floor, my back to the refrigerator, playing a game on the computer, while Katie stands at the sink holding a mostly cleaned pig's skull and an X-Acto blade. After poking around inside it a bit, rinsing, and considering again, she places her lips to the back of the skull and blows, and a bunch of thankfully unidentifiable tissue flows out the nose.

"Man, the inside of your head is so cool!" she enthuses, and the dog barks again.

Pocket Picked

"Every time I hear that commercial," Katie says about the ad on the radio, "I want to check for my wallet."

"But you know," she continues, "even when you've got your wallet, you don't really have your wallet."

My face must look confused. She adds, "It's all ones and zeros, now, so the banks have all your money someplace else, in a computer."

Saturday, January 23, 2016

The Kindness of Strangers

The little girl holding her mother's hand is doing her very best down the center of the stairs to the subway, but it's pretty slow going, one careful stair at a time. The folks piling up behind them are starting to get pretty irritated.

Mom, noticing the seething horde above them, tries to pull the two of them over to one side, throwing her daughter slightly off balance. Without even looking, the little girl reaches back behind her with her free hand to steady herself and grabs the hand of a random woman who, without missing a beat, steps down next to her and, together, the three of them make their way into the station while the crowd flows effortlessly around them.

Thursday, January 21, 2016

That Time of Year

In the midst of sorting the recycling, I heave a huge sigh, and Katie comes in to the kitchen and regards me sympathetically.

"It's the saddest time of the year," she says, "but it will soon be over, and all of your sadness will disappear...."

"I'm not really sad," I say, "I'm just so angry."

"I know," she says in exasperation.

Wednesday, January 20, 2016

What a Fool Beliebs

"What would it be like," I wonder out loud as I take out my contacts, "if you were one of the people on earth who had made Justin Bieber come?"

"If one were one of those people?" Katie asks from behind the shower curtain, raising her voice to be heard over the noise of the water and the pop music blaring from the radio.

"Yeah, like, you had had sex with Justin Bieber, and you made him orgasm, how would you feel about yourself?"

"Well, I'm pretty sure that if I had sex with Justin Bieber, I would consider it a low point," Katie replies thoughtfully.

Tuesday, January 19, 2016

A Momentary Truce

Head down, forearms braced in a triangle on my yoga mat, I flex my abdomen and lift my legs up into a headstand.

Today, unlike most days, there is no struggle. I find a balance point and all the strain disappears, effortless as standing, I am breathing deep, poised in perfect equilibrium.

But then a shot of a adrenaline bursts cold in my stomach as I feel balance shift, and my arms lock back into the battle to hold me upright, upside-down, fighting gravity once again.

Monday, January 18, 2016

Dread Imaginings

After a weekend of watching "Penny Dreadful" and a screening of "The Revenant" my head was already filled with visions of blood and dread. The icy knife of the night's wind only added to my generally morbid outlook.

So, it's understandable that, upon coming around the corner of my street to see the homeless guy crouched by the bank with a face like a grinning skull, his clothes waving in the wind in a most unearthly fashion, I jumped, and my heart pounded sick and hard in my chest. It's only as I got closer that I was able to see it was just a bag of garbage that the cleaning crew at the bank had thrown out onto the sidewalk for the trash collectors, and not a person at all.

Hot and Cold

I walk downstairs and push the door out into the night. A light snow is falling like a slow meteor shower through the yellow street lights, and the flakes whisk through the air to melt on my cheeks in tiny, cold pinpricks.

Later, I sit on the edge of the tub, keeping my wife company as she attempts to melt her knotted back muscles into submission. I roll up my jeans and, one at a time, push my feet into the water, enjoying the near pain of the heat until I settle them into position under the backs of Katie's thighs.

Sunday, January 17, 2016

Deep-seated Guilt

The vendor across the row from me walks over. "You been pretty busy on that laptop today," he says.

I explain that I've been writing an email for our mailing list, working on my blog, my novel, writing writing writing.

But there's a piece of me that feels guilty, I mean, I did check Facebook while I was on.

Friday, January 15, 2016

Things Between Us

Downstairs, in the train station, I see my boss standing on the opposite platform, separated from me by two sets of tracks.

When she sees me, she smiles, and I smile back, a big dumb grin at the absurdity of the situation.

Then she waves, and my grin widens, but I feel a little awkward, like I'm somehow impinging on the anonymity we feel we have in public spaces.

By the time I realize I should probably wave back, she's already looking away, and a train on her track slides in between us, blocking my view.

Thursday, January 14, 2016

Let it Go

"I envy people who can just get mad and then get over it," I say to my cubicle mate. "Like you: you get mad, you get 'salty,'" using her favorite word for when she let's somebody have it who really has it coming, "and then you're done."

"But sometimes, I don't even know I'm mad for, like, twenty minutes. And then it takes me the rest of the day to get over it."

Wednesday, January 13, 2016


"There's nothing," is a phrase I often type when I sit down to write these things, when my mind wanders in that moment before I've decided what to write (if I haven't yet come up with anything for that day).

But what does it mean? There's nothing to say, or do?

I attempt to look into my thoughts for meaning or some kind of story and the first thing it throws up is a defensive nihilism, as if my brain is a locked box with secrets it's loathe to reveal.

Tuesday, January 12, 2016


"We talked about a solution," she says about the breeze that is ventelating our room through cracks in the walls around the windows. "The plastic wrap."

"But I thought that was just for windows - does it work for window frames? Or am I being to literal?" I say while she slowly nods.

Monday, January 11, 2016

Cancer and Entropy

"I think it's like playing 'Chopsticks.'"

"How so?"

"Well, it's an endless song - you just play it over and over and over, right? But no matter how well you play, eventually, with all that repetition, you're going to get more and more notes wrong until it just breaks down."

Sunday, January 10, 2016

Wake Up

I'm out walking the dog, an ordinary night, I flip my hair out of my eyes, and the world appears. I can see the trees on my street, and the long, graceful necks of street lights above, a stray star twinkling faintly whose beams have managed to escape the cage of artificial light surrounding Brooklyn, the slate sidewalk still glistening from the rain earlier today.

God, why can't I see like this all the time, long hair notwithstanding? I catch a momentary glimpse of the world, my world, the one I live and walk in, but then I forget, and I'm missing it all the time.

Another Timeline

The guy on the sidewalk in front of the restaurant with the beard and the red plaid hunter's hat looks mildly uncomfortable in the group of freshly scrubbed young people he's with. He's probably the same age as the rest of them but he looks different, and he seems to watch the end rituals of brunch as if from a distance.

I used to wear a beard like this guy, dressed like him too, and I used to sort of stand apart from whatever crowd I was with, but at some point I stopped being like that. I see him standing there, a possible present from a discarded past.

Saturday, January 9, 2016

So, Like, Sushi?

"So what do you want to eat," I ask, "because I'm fine with whatever."

She lays back on the bed, staring at her phone with despair, flipping through screen after screen of menus.

After minute or so of this with no answer, I ask again, and she fixes me with the saddest look I've ever seen.

"I'm hungry and exhausted," she says, "and I just need somebody to take this decision away from me."

Thursday, January 7, 2016


The argument about how to dispose of the Christmas tree (I thought it was wasteful to use so much tape to wrap it up in a tarp before dragging it down the stairs, she thought I was an idiot) has ended, predictably, with me being mostly wrong, and to make up for it, I'm vacuuming up shameful pine needle evidence of my wrong-ness from the stairs.

I'm boogieing along oblivious, pushing the roaring vacuum back and forth on the second floor landing of our building, when our downstairs neighbor pops out of her apartment and says, "Hi."

I make an undignified sound and jump, turn around, see her, and jump again, a little higher.

"Oh my God, I am so sorry, that is literally my nightmare," she says as I try to regain my composure.

Wednesday, January 6, 2016

Short Women

I quicken my pace to keep warm, and to get from my front door to the subway station with as short an exposure to the chill morning air as I can manage. Even beneath my space suit of a jacket (vintage Woolrich, tweed, fluffy collar and a weight like I'm being hugged by a very friendly bear) I still feel the cold creep up my arms and legs from where they're exposed.

I hear her before I see her: the brisk, businesslike clip-clip-clip of her stride coming up from behind. Before I know it, she's already past, almost a foot shorter than me and at least double the speed of my loping gait without even seeming to work that hard.

Tuesday, January 5, 2016

Desperate to Connect

The train is packed, all of us shoved up against one-another.

"Excuse me, is that the latest book by so-and-so?" the woman at my left elbow says shyly.

"Yeah," the guy at my shoulder replies, a little shy himself, "it's really good."

There's a short silence after they've established these facts, then, hesitantly, "Well, sorry to bother you."

Monday, January 4, 2016

All For the Best

Guy stands shivering in the cold by the subway station holding a sign: "any change?"

Another guy walks by, throws a half smoked cigarette on the ground a few feet away from the beggar, who glances up and down the street, then stoops to retrieve it.

Was that on purpose? I think, like, did he give him the cigarette, but in such a way so as to make it look like it was an accident?

Is this some species of kindness?

Sunday, January 3, 2016

Tit for Tat

"Do you mean to squeeze the contact lens solution bottle and then leave it squeezed in half?" I ask Katie while she showers.

"I don't do it very often, and it doesn't really affect the bottle," Katie replies as a disembodied voice from behind the shower curtain over the hiss of the water. "And you leave the lid from the cat's food out, and have gone back on your promise from two years ago to never leave the fork for the cat's food out on the counter. Do you really want to do this?"

Have They Seen Me Naked?

Apparently all the kitchens in New York City have the exact same cabinets in them: blond wood, no handles or hardware, about the same size and shape.  I know this because I saw them in the 2nd floor kitchen of the building across the street, as the guys beneath the cabinets fished beers from the fridge and passed them around.

In the midst of my voyeuristic enjoyment of their little scene, a dreadful thought struck me: had people from the other side of the street looked up and seen me in my living room from their side of the street?

 I resolved to go across the street and see what I could see from the sidewalk, but I forgot.

Saturday, January 2, 2016

Could Be Into More Than One Thing

"So what do you think his story is?" I say to Katie, indicating the black guy at the end of the subway car. He's got a fixie bicycle, button down shirt and glasses, reading "Don Diva" magazine with a picture of a very gangster man in a suit pointing a gun at the camera on the cover.

"What do you mean?" Katie asks, and I stop to think: what do I mean?

Maybe it's the fixie that throwing me - like, is he riding a bike (but in this cold?), dressed all nice, but really into the faux gangster hip hop thing?

Friday, January 1, 2016

Ivory Soap

"I love being married on New Year's Eve," Katie says as we scrub ourselves clean after the party. "It's like, we've got the thing that everybody is kinda looking for, but also, we've found our person."

I nod in agreement, adding over the hiss of the shower, "I really love the smell of this soap. It's almost medicinal."